The Urban Space of Occupied Hong Kong

What surprised me most was the silence. Here I was, standing on what is normally an eight-lane funnel of angry traffic, and the only sounds I could hear were footsteps and the soft murmur of voices. Free of diesel exhaust, the briny scent of the harbour lingered in the air, and a warm breeze ruffled […]

What Sucks About Walking in Hong Kong

I often get angry when I walk around Hong Kong. This is one of the most fascinating cities in the world to explore — densely layered, pulsing with energy — but it’s also one of the most frustrating because of all the ways the pedestrian experience is undermined and made unpleasant. In the city with […]

How to Rethink Our Streets

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Boulevard, Montreal, Spring 2011 Urban design proposed for the boulevard, February 2012 Last year, my team and the planning service of Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles borough worked to rethink the design of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Boulevard. It is located east of downtown Montreal, where it crosses old districts from the early 1900s and suburbs from the 1960s. It was […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Canada, Environment, Transportation by Daniel Corbeil Comments Off on How to Rethink Our Streets , , ,

Too Many Pedestrians, Not Enough Space

When Hong Kong urban planner Peter Cookson-Smith steps out of his office in Wan Chai, he doesn’t like what he sees. “You go out into the street and find yourself walking on the road because the pavements are so crowded,” he said. “People just want to walk in an unobstructed way, but there are railings […]

Auto Invasion

Photo by Charlotte Huang Hong Kong’s not a big place, and with 28 million mainland Chinese visitors a year, it’s beginning to feel even more crowded than usual. The stress seems to have gotten to a lot of people. Over the past month, a handful of seemingly banal conflicts between Hongkongers and mainland tourists have […]

How to Clean Hong Kong’s Toxic Air

While Hong Kong’s air is significantly cleaner than cities in mainland China, its roadside air pollution is more than five times worse than other major cities like New York Hong Kong’s roadside air pollution hit record-high levels last month, with new data from the Environmental Protection Department showing that pollution at roadside monitoring stations reached […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Environment, Transportation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on How to Clean Hong Kong’s Toxic Air , , ,

How to Fix a Troublesome Highway

[youtube][/youtube] When Montreal’s Turcot Interchange opened in 1966, no one had seen anything quite like it. Floating one hundred pillared feet above the ground, its concrete spans swirled and swooped through the air, finally coming together in a knot of jaw-dropping proportions. It comprised over seven kilometres of road and spanned an area of seventeen […]

More Pedestrian Streets, Less Pollution

Hong Kong’s government has finally decided that sacrificing its air quality in favour of cars, buses and trucks isn’t such a good thing after all. Yesterday, in a somewhat surprising departure from its reluctance to make big plans, the government pledged to fight roadside air pollution by revamping the city’s vast bus network, planting more […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Environment, Politics, Public Space, Transportation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on More Pedestrian Streets, Less Pollution , , , , , ,

Taxi Culture

It occurred to my friends and I, as we were travelling in a convoy of taxis down a one-lane mountain road, that it was a bit odd that an afternoon of hiking would start with a ride in a cab. But Hong Kong is an odd place. With a remarkably few private vehicles for such […]

The Grimy Side of Pokfulam

Pokfulam Road is one of Hong Kong’s posher addresses, sweeping past the leafy hills and stunning ocean views on the west side of Hong Kong Island. But its origins are far more humble: Pokfulam starts as a narrow two-lane street, besieged by the noise and exhaust of buses labouring uphill in first gear, its postwar […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Public Space, Transportation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on The Grimy Side of Pokfulam , ,


Trafficopter, a 1972 National Film Board documentary by Barrie Howells, isn’t especially insightful, but it is certainly stylish. Following the traffic reporter for a Montreal radio station as he soars above the morning rush hour in a small helicopter, it gazes down at a miniature city caught up in the interminable grind of daily commerce. […]

Saigon’s Other River

[youtube][/youtube] Saigon owes its existence to the Saigon River, but its languid current and fetid waters aren’t quite as impressive as one might expect. The city’s real river can be found in its streets, where a roaring current of motorcycles, buses, trucks and cars rushes unceasingly for all but a few hours of the day. […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Transportation, Video by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Saigon’s Other River , ,

Rainbow Jam

Thanks to its large, multi-hued fleet of taxis and tuk-tuks, not to mention the Thai tradition of exuberantly decorating one’s vehicle, Bangkok must have the most colourful traffic in the world. That’s a good thing, too, because the traffic is jammed so often it would be awfully monotonous without such visual stimulus.

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Transportation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Rainbow Jam , , ,

São Paulo: Green in an Unruly Metropolis

Parque Trianon, Avenida Paulista, early morning. One clue to judging the safety of a neighborhood is the presence of women out walking dogs. Despite São Paulo’s high crime rates, you see them in many areas. São Paulo has the reputation of being a very dangerous city. Its murder rate is phenomenal: 36.9 per 100,000 people […]

Posted in: Environment, Latin America, Society and Culture by Mary Soderstrom Comments Off on São Paulo: Green in an Unruly Metropolis , , ,